Jack Cornstalk

Henry Lawson, 1899

      This poem is from a short story by Henry Lawson, "Jack Cornstalk", the first section written especially for the story, with the other sections (interspersed within the rest of the story) taken from other poems he had previously written.

      Jack Cornstalk as a drover born,
      Jack Cornstalk gaunt and tan,
      Jack Cornstalk leaves his love forlorn,
      Jack Cornstalk man to man.
      Jack Cornstalk as a careless scamp,
      With day-dreams in his head;
      Jack Cornstalk on his lone, wide camp,
      Jack Cornstalk with his dead,
      Jack Cornstalk at his best and worst.
      The day dawns on his brow,
      Jack Cornstalk's country must be first —
      Advance Australia now!

      Introduction — A Glimpse of Boyhood

      "Boys out there by the western creeks,
      Who hurry away from school,
      To climb the sides of the breezy peaks,
      Or dive in the shaded pool"
                    The Star of Australasia (1895)

      Jack Cornstalk in his Teens

      "If not in the Garden, he had in the ark,
      To neither the beasts' nor the passengers' joy.
      Full many a boyish and monkeyish lark,
      The sandy-complexioned, the freckle-faced boy.

      And down through the ages he rattles the drums,
      While armies and nations each other destroy;
      The century goes, and the century comes
      But he lives on forever, the freckle-faced boy.

      All over the world are the lands of his birth;
      And when Time and Transgression this planet destroy
      He will come to advise the last man on earth
      The fatherly, chummy, the freckle-faced boy."
                    The Freckle-Faced Boy

      Jack Cornstalk as a Drover

      "Dry scrub and dusty clearing
      The long, hot, drowsy day;
      The land line ever nearing
      And ever far away."
                    Bush Rhyme

      Jack Cornstalk as a Lover

      "For he rides hard to dull the pain,
      Who rides from him who loves him best;
      But he rides slowly home again,
      Whose restless heart must rove for rest."
                    The Sliprails and the Spur (1899)

      As a Poet

      "Not from the seas does he draw inspiration,
      Not from the rivers that croon on their bars;
      But a wide, a world-old desolation —
      On a dead land alone with the stars.

      The long hot day gone over,
      And starlight come again;
      And I, weary rover,
      Lie camped on One Tree Plain.

      My saddle for a pillow,
      I lie beneath the tree,
      That softens to a willow,
      In the moonlight over me.

      I dream that I remember
      A dim and distant day,
      Beyond yon misty timber,
      In the Home-world far away.
                    Bush Rhymes

      Man to Man

      "The stranger's hand to the stranger yet
      For a roving folk are mine;
      The stranger's store for the stranger set,
      And the camp-fire glow the sign!"
                    The Writer's Dream (1897)

      He Buries His Dead

      "For thirty miles round Talbragar
      The boys rolled up in strength,
      And Denver had a funeral
      A good long mile in length"
                    Ben Duggan (1891)

      Note: "Cornstalk" was a nickname given to young men born and reared in Australia. Often the eldest son of a family.